Redknapp incensed by coin attack on official

Aston Villa 0 Portsmouth 0
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The Independent Football

Such is the extraordinary lifespan of the successful modern manager that it is inevitable their character will evolve and their belief system gain clarity.

But is "Our 'Arry" as the footballing anthropologist, as the great social thinker, ready to lower his monocle and bemoan the breakdown of society? In his 25 years of gafferdom his has been a startling transformation.

Of course, there was a serious side to the sermon delivered by Harry Redknapp moments after his Portsmouth side had clinched a precious point at Villa Park. In fact, it could have been altogether more serious. But fortunately the 50p coin that was meant to strike the manager instead connected with the forehead of the assistant referee Phil Sharp and the wound, while bloody, only required a plaster.

It was therefore possible to sit back and nod at the wisdom of Redknapp's logic. As he referred to the vile taunts directed at Sol Campbell against Tottenham recently, he decided to widen the argument from this particular "moron" to make a more general point about fans who believe they can say and do anything, and clubs and authorities not doing enough to dissuade them from this notion.

Redknapp talked about grandfathers screaming their obscenities and sticking up the middle finger as the little ones beside them watch and learn. He was encouraged to say "hanging's too good for 'em" but instead he opined that "national service may be the answer". Although he wasn't sure. All he was certain of was that the clubs and the authorities must act firmly, and he will be pleased to hear that the Football Association has launched an investigation (whatever that means) and that the West Midlands police will convene with stadium officials to go through the CCTV footage in an attempt to discover the identity of the culprit.

A life ban has been promised and Aston Villa should also take a long hard look at the supposed family section behind the visitors' bench. Last year, Redknapp was singled out by the same part of the crowd for what he called "filthy abuse". But still, he was stunned by this incident, which came in the last minutes of normal time.

"I don't get aggro anywhere else but here," he said. "I don't know why. Perhaps because we beat them 3-1 last year and that gave them the needle."

Villa must take whatever steps necessary to guard against another flashpoint next season. One day the aim will not be so awry and the missile could be more dangerous.

Campbell would no doubt identify with any fear his manager might feel the next time he is at Villa Park. Also do not be surprised if Redknapp confides in him. The respect he has for his centre-half is obvious.

"Sol was outstanding, and he's been like that the last few weeks," crooned Redknapp. Without him, Portsmouth would almost certainly have fallen under the second-half Villa onslaught. But they stayed on their feet just as Redknapp claimed he would have if the coin had found its desired target. "I wouldn't have given him the satisfaction," he said.

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Davies, Laursen (L Young, 88), Barry; Milner, Reo-Coker, Petrov, A Young; Agbonlahor, Carew. Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Sidwell, Harewood, Knight, Shorey, Gardner.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Pamarot; Little (Utaka, 71), Davis Diop, A Traoré (Belhadj, 78); Defoe (Mvuemba, 82), Crouch. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Hreidarsson, Thomas, Kanu.

Referee: M Riley (Yorks).

Booked: Aston Villa A Young; Portsmouth Johnson, Davis, Diop.

Sent off Davis (81).

Man of the match: Campbell.

Attendance: 37,660